A major €14 million initiative is bringing experts from across North West Europe together to develop the potential of algae as a source of sustainable energy.
The four-year transnational Energetic Algae – or EnAlgae – project, led by Swansea University, is a strategic initiative funded by the INTERREG IVB North West Europe Programme via the European Regional Development Fund, together with a range of co-sponsors.
It involves 19 Partners and 13 Observers across eight EU member states (France, Belgium, UK, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Luxembourg) and aims to reduce CO2 emissions and dependency on unsustainable energy sources, through the accelerated development and deployment of algal-based biomass and bioenergy technologies.
In 2009, the EC Greenhouse Gas Inventory reported that North West Europe was responsible for more than 40 per cent of the EU’s total Greenhouse Gas emissions. This was due to the region’s high population density and its intensive level of industrial and rural development.
Given such considerable pressures on the environment and current energy sources, sustainable bioenergy innovations could help provide a solution to tackling CO2 emissions across the region, encouraging growth of a Low Carbon Economy.
Currently, algal bioenergy technologies are immature, but rapid advances are being made in the field.
The EnAlgae initiative will allow expert centres across North West Europe to form an integrated pilot network to support and accelerate the development of new algal-based technologies to the point of commercialisation.
The project is unique in developing best practices that will influence European policies on algal biomass production, bioenergy and bioremediation technologies, thereby de-risking and accelerating commercialisation of the sector.
The project’s manager Dr Robin Shields, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) at Swansea University’s College of Science, said: "Algal bioenergy has been identified as a strategic priority by the INTERREG IVB NWE Programme. The EnAlgae expert partnership has been formed to develop and implement technologies tailored to the unique socio-economic and environmental conditions of North West Europe.
"Thanks to close transnational cooperation, EnAlgae partners and stakeholders will gain access to those sustainable technologies most suited to their local operating conditions.
"As project lead partner, Swansea University is delighted to extend its industry-focused research on algal bioremediation and biorefinery technologies, in partnership with acknowledged experts from across North West Europe."
As a partner in the project Dr Michele Stanley and Dr John Day from SAMS will deliver work on cryopreservation of algae.
Dr Michele Stanley said: "We are currently at the beginning of a biotechnological revolution where commercial exploitation of unusual organisms and microalgae in particular will form the basis of new industries with products as diverse as biofuels, functional foods, cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals and CO2 sequestration.
"The EnAlgae project offers us the opportunity to investigate long-term conservation of algal species, which has major implications to the development of a sustainable biofuel industry, utilising the expertise that resides within the Scottish Marine Institute. The INTERREG IVA funded BioMara project - which is led by us - will act as an observer for EnAlgae."
1. The EnAlgae partnership comprises:
2. EnAlgae project timeline: The project was formally approved by the INTERREG IVB NWE Programme in March 2011. It will end on June 30, 2015.
3. INTERREG IVB is "a financial instrument of the European Union's Cohesion Policy. It funds projects which support transnational cooperation. The aim is to find innovative ways to make the most of territorial assets and tackle shared problems of Member States, regions and other authorities." For more information visit www.nweurope.eu.
4. Swansea University’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) was established in 2005, and is located in the University’s College of Science. It is a research and knowledge transfer centre, focused on developing and transferring integrated aquaculture technologies for a diverse range of commercially important aquatic plant and animal species, for both food and non-food applications. For more information visit www.aquaculturewales.com
5. Swansea University is a world-class, research-led university situated in stunning parkland overlooking Swansea Bay on the edge of the Gower peninsula, the UK's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Founded in 1920, the University now offers around 500 undergraduate courses and 150 postgraduate courses to 15,921 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Visit www.swansea.ac.uk. Swansea University is a registered charity. No. 1138342. Mae Prifysgol Abertawe yn elusen gofrestredig. Rhif. 1138342.
For enquiries relating to the project’s Lead Partner, the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) at Swansea University, or to request an interview with the project’s manager Dr Robin Shields, please contact
Swansea University Public Relations Office
T: +0044 (0)1792 295049
For enquiries relating to the work carried out at the Scottish Marine Institute please contact
Dr Anuschka Miller
T: +44 (0) 1631 559 300
M: +44 (0) 77 86 32 77 80